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    Call for “fundamental overhaul” of Universal Credit

    Written by on January 10, 2020

    Universal Credit needs a “fundamental overhaul” – that’s the message from Citizens Advice Scotland.

    They’ve written to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, calling for six key reforms to the benefit.

    These include a reduction in the five-week wait for the first payment – and an increase to the level of Work Allowances.

    The charity is outlining six key reforms to the benefit:

    1. Reduce the five week wait for the first payment to no more than two weeks
    2. Introduce a grant payment for the assessment period to replace the current advance payment loans that are pushing people into debt
    3. End the digital by default application and claim maintenance process – ensure offline options are available
    4. Extend the existing Work Allowances to all Universal Credit recipients, not just those with children or a limiting health condition
    5. Increase the level of Work Allowances and reduce the Taper Rate to allow workers to keep more of what they earn
    6. Review the way that DWP estimate earnings for the self-employed to reflect actual earnings

    Citizens Advice Scotland’s Social Justice spokesperson, Mhoraig Green, said:

    “We need to see significant changes to the way the Universal Credit is designed and delivered to ensure it supports the people who need it.

    “There are issues with how long people have to wait for a first payment, people being pushed into further debt, and the digital by default system which locks out people who don’t have the skills or means to apply and maintain their claim online. We need fundamental reforms to the system to address these issues.

    “The new Government must also make ensure Universal Credit makes work pay.

    “A rising tide of people are working, yet remain in poverty. Our social security system should be a way to lift people out of poverty by supporting people into work and supplementing low paid work. Universal Credit is supposed to provide this support, but our evidence shows that in reality it penalises people who work.”